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Authored by Geri Vladeva

Before my trip to Norway, I thought of the country as a fairy tale land that although travel guides insisted was real, seemed to me to be fiction. And sure enough, you really have to be there to believe it.

Western Norway’s epic landscapes rank among the most stunning in Europe, and the “sheer drama of the fjords is alone worth the effort of coming here. Fjords of extraordinary beauty cut gashes from a jagged coastline deep into the interior, cliffs plunge down to barely populated shorelines, and waterfalls drop from impossible heights.”

I was in Norway in June, when the days are long and the light never goes away. This truly is the best time to visit because you can literally explore for 24 hours a day. And although I’m not a frequent backpacker, backpacking is the best way to experience Norway. Railway transportation is the easiest (and cheapest) way to travel around the country, and having a backpack is a very practical as you’ll find there’s a lot of walking ahead of you.

My Favorite Cities and Fjords Along the Norwegian West Coast

Kristiansand

Closest to Olso’s international airports, my West Coast tour started from Kristiansand; one of the southernmost cities in Norway. And while this is Norway’s fifth largest city, it still felt relatively small.

It calls itself ‘Norways No 1 Holiday Resort’ and looks and feels like a sea resort for families. You don’t need much time to see the few streets with old wooden houses in Posebyen (the old quarter), to walk along the Markens Street (the main pedestrian street), and to stroll along the coastal promenade.

Stavanger

Stavanger is a university city with a beautiful old quarter. Its white painted wooden houses look like life size dollhouses. It has breathtaking surroundings with beautiful fjords, mountains, and long, white beaches, however is most famous as a starting point for one of the two most famous hikes in Norway – Preikestolen (the Pulpit Rock).

Preikestolen is located 604 metres above sea level and is the most visited attraction in the county of Rogaland. Lonely Planet named it the number one most breathtaking viewing platform in the world.

Hiking Preikestolen

Bergen

Bergen is Norway’s most popular tourist destination, and once you arrive it’s not hard to see why. Its history dates back to the Middle Ages, and this heritage that can still be glimpsed in the beautifully preserved wooden houses of Bryggen, now protected as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Famous for the seven mountains surrounding the city center, “colourful houses creep up the hillsides, ferry-boats flit around the fjords, and a cluster of excellent art museums provide a welcome detour in case Bergen’s notoriously fickle weather sets in. Meanwhile, a large student population ensures the city has a buzzy bar scene and nightlife.”

Bergen is Norway's most popular tourist destination, and once you arrive it's not hard to see why. Click To Tweet

Bergen Norway

Bergen

Flam

As a day trip from Bergen, be sure not to miss out on experiencing the journey to Flam. This is a small village with grand surroundings, and Lonely Planet named Flam Railway was the most incredible train journey in the world for its scenery (though honestly, all rail routes in Norway are spectacular).

“The journey takes you from Flåm by the fjord to the top of the mountains, and during the 20-kilometre train ride you can see rivers cutting through deep ravines, waterfalls cascading down the sides of steep, snow-capped mountains and mountain farms clinging dizzily to steep hillsides.”

The Flam railway is the shorter way to travel from Bergen to Flam. However, the longer way, by express boat, is a journey you’ll never forget!

The boat follows the Sognefjord (Flam is a small village situated at the deepest end of the fjord), and you can appreciate the view of all vistas on both sides, which, like the rest of the region, are postcard worthy.

Flam Railway

Flam, Norway

Fjærland

After Bergen, I travelled to Fjærland, and this small village for me is the most magical spot in Norway. It is the village where galcier and fjord meet – a tiny settlement lying at the foot of the largest glacier in Europe, with a picturesque center called Mundal.

In the center there is a booktown, art gallery and the old, wooden Hotel Mundal from 1891. It’s almost as if time just stops. There are simple nice people, crisp and clear fjord waters, and a feeling of peace that you can’t find anywhere else.

But please, keep the secret! It is one of the last truly peaceful places on Earth!

Ålesund

After having taken in the mighty sites of Bergen and Sognefjord, Ålesund almost felt like a fishing village. But it has its charm.

The town has a beautiful setting across several islands stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean, and is known for its architecture in Art Nouveau style. There are two streets with cafes and restaurants, but the best place to head is the Fjellstua Viewpoint.

The view from this hill offers one of the best panoramas in Norway. Walk the stairs in the early morning to enjoy the fresh air and clear view.

Alesund

Trondheim

At first glance, Trondheim looks like an industrial city. And it is. But when you visit the old port and enter the old town, you literally enter another time.

The typical colorful houses in Scandinavian style form soft lines and their continuous chain at Bakkandet is broken from time to time by tiny cozy restaurants with a few tables on the sidewalks.

The most spectacular view is from the Gamle Bybro Bridge, gently named “The Portal of Happiness”. For the history junkies, the Nidaros Cathedral may be of interest too. Its imposing building exudes a sense of magic and is surrounded by a clean, well-arranged graveyard in an even more spectacular park. Check out the Archbishop Palace’s Museum if you fancy learning about the history of the place and the Norwegian monarchy in general.

Keep in Mind …

Two weeks solo backpacking the Norwegian West Coast was enough to see the most significant sights, and yet still leave you wanting more.

My advice is to choose a few destinations you want to see the most, and stay longer. Don’t try to see everything! It’s impossible.

OUR FAVORITE NORWAY TRAVEL GUIDES: CLICK TO LOOK INSIDE↓

Norway Travel Guide

Lonely Planet Norway

Norway Travel Guide

DK Eyewitness Norway

Norway Travel Guide

Insight Guides: Norway

SPREAD THE WORD! PIN THIS TO YOUR TRAVEL PINTEREST BOARDS ↓

Geri began exploring the world as an expat in Ethiopia. Since then she has lived in many different countries and shares her travel and expat experience with female readers on When Woman Travels blog – a place for female travel trip ideas and tips to help women be stylish and travel more.

Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest and Instagram.

Photo credits: Featured / Bergen by Andrés Nieto Porras. Flam Railway Tracks by Saul Grinberg Filho. All other photography by When Woman Travels.

    33 Comments

  1. Nice article about fascinating Norway and gorgeous pic of Preikestolen!

    • Glad you enjoyed the post! Preikestolen is an incredible spot, especially for photos … hope you have the chance to travel soon :)

  2. HOLY COW! That looks awesome, I saw that Norway just got voted the happiest country in the world, just another excuse to get over there and check it out. Great post!

    • Absolutely – Norway has so much going for it! So glad you enjoyed the post Jim, hope you have the chance to visit soon :)

  3. As am seeking for an admission of son at University of Bergen in technology,I find the article supporting my choice to send my son there!

    • Perfect excuse to head to Norway to visit your son then!

  4. Norway is one of my favourite countries. I visited Stavanger last October and like you have written I did the Pulpit Rock hike and I must say that was the best experience of my travel through Norway. The fjords over there are great and your pictures show exactly how beautiful that country is. The next time I visit Norway I will try to cover the other places you have mentioned. Thank you for this wonderful article.

    • So glad you had an incredible time in Norway Raksha! Doesn’t it blow you away!

      Glad we could offer some ideas for your next trip :) Maybe we’ll run into you along the way :)

  5. Still sounds like a fairytale land to me and honestly looks like it in the pics too. Sounds like you need to go back to see the off the beaten path highlights too. Just spectacular. This would be a good place to start though for sure.

    • Oh absolutely – I think Norway is as close to a fairytale on earth as we’ll ever see!

      And yes, there are always more off the beaten path spots to explore – so plenty of return trips in the future hopefully :)

      Happy travels Hallie :)

  6. Norway does seem to be a fairyland that exists in the realms of imagination. The places that you have talked about in your post look so picturesque and surreal, it is difficult to imagine that they are real, live places. The pictures are stunning and seeing them, I hope to wake up in Norway some day.

    • Oh absolutely – I think Norway is as close to a fairytale on earth as we’ll ever see! One of those places you really have to witness in person to believe :)

      I hope you have the chance to include Norway in an upcoming trip soon :)

  7. Wow,Never heard about all these places and you have captured them so beautiful. The photos looks like so enticing and would love to just stare them all day. I will surely penned all these places on my bucket list for a future reference. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful travel experiences.

    • Glad we could introduce you to the West Coast of Norway :) Hope you have the chance to cross it off the bucket list soon!

  8. These all look beautiful! I did not know Bergen was such a popular destination! I am going there and to Oslo this summer and I am really looking forward to seeing those adorable houses and learning about the history.

    • Bergen is definitely a tourist hot spot – but for good reason! You’ll have a wonderful time :)

  9. Thank you so much for this article! I have been wanting to visit Norway for so long! I hope I can maybe go this year. Your pictures were incredible too!

    • You’re most welcome Aubrie! Glad we could bring you inspiration for Norway – hope you have the chance to travel this year :)

    • Hi Aubrie, I’m glad you found my article inspiring. If you need more information and especially if you plan to go solo, visit my blog. Cheers!

  10. The word Norway brings me images of Fjords. Though I have never been there , I have seen so many pictures that makes yearn for it. It’s all there in my plan :)

    • You’ll definitely see Fjords! Some of the most incredible landscapes and scenery in the world :) I hope you can travel soon X

  11. Nice to learn more about Norway…

    • Glad we could help :) Happy travels!

  12. Gorgeous photos – and they brought back wonderful memories. I was fortunate to cruise from Bergen to Flam via the Sognefjord and it was fantastic. We stayed a night in Flam and then took the train on to Oslo. This short visit made me fall in love with Norway and your post has given me lots more inspiration to get back their soon.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Carolyn :) And that you fell in love with Norway also! It seems to have that affect on people!! :D

      Maybe we’ll bump into you on a return trip too :)

  13. Hey Megan,

    I met Geri right after her trip to Norway and I still remember the passion and fascination in her voice when she was telling me about the trip!

    Thank you for publishing this post :)

    Cheers,
    N.

    • Small world! Geri is fantastic, I would love to bump into her on our travels someday :) Her passion and fascination for Norway comes through in her emails and content too – was excited to collaborate with her to publish a guest article :)

      Glad you enjoyed the post!

  14. Hi Thank you so much for this amazing Compilation!
    I love these cities, too.
    Greetings from PAKISTAN~

    • Glad you enjoyed the post, and are a fan of Norway also :)

  15. Stayed in Bergen did the Norway in a nutshell trip. Also went to Alesund. Pay attention to weekend train sched. 3 of us ended up at a train station t 3 am with no connection as we goofed up. Norwegian rail folk drove us to next station.

    • Oh wow that’s so incredible of the Norwegian rail staff to help you out. Good tip!

  16. Bergen is the most unfriendly place in Norway. Maybe the only unfriendly place in the whole country.

    • Sorry to hear you’re not a fan Thordan. Hopefully it will rewin you over on a future trip.

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